The BBC and independent television each operate a teletext service, offering constantly updated information on a variety of subjects, including news, sport, travel, local weather conditions and entertainment. The teletext system allows the television signal to carry additional information which can be selected and displayed as “pages” of text and graphics on receivers equipped with the necessary decoders. Both Ceefax, the BBC’s service, and Oracle, the independent television’s service, have a subtitling facility on certain programmes for people with hearing difficulties. Both services are available whenever the transmitters are on the air. Nearly 40 per cent of households in Britain have teletext sets and over 7 million people turn to the service daily: more than most daily newspapers. The broadcasting Act 1990 introduces a new regulatory system for licensing spare capacity within the television signal. This allows more varied use of spare capacity – data transfer, for instance – but the position of teletext on commercial television is safeguarded. At the end of 1991 the ITC advertised three teletext licences – a single public service licence for teletext on Channels 3 and 4 (andS4C) and two separate licences for commercial additional services to subscription or closed user groups.

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